“Nightmare?” (Y/n) asked disbelievingly and her arms dropped unconsciously, as did her bow. “Are you kidding me?”
“No,” Aster answered shortly and looked down at the black sand. “How else would you explain this?”
“True,” (Y/n) replied with a thoughtful hum as she looked back to the black sand. The people in town had been complaining about having nightmares as of late. All of her friends and family, basically everyone she knew or knew of. And the only one that hadn’t had nightmares? Herself. For some odd reason, whatever had gotten to the other townspeople hadn’t bothered with her. Not that she’d ever expected to get nightmares – she hadn’t had a single since she was about ten – but it still struck her as odd that people she was convinced were five times as resistant to any sort of scare had succumb to nightmares, bad dreams of all things.
“Then what’s with the sand?” she finally asked and looked back over at the man in front of her.
Aster sighed. Should I just tell her? he debated inwardly, before he arrived at the same conclusion as before.
“You’ve heard of Sandman, right?” he asked and leaned up a nearby tree.
“Sure,” (Y/n) replied slightly hesitant. Where was the crazy guy going with this now?
“It’s his,” Aster continued with a jerk of his head towards the sand.
(Y/n) looked back down at it and her brow furrowed.
“I thought Sandman was supposed to bring good dreams not nightmares,” she said, puzzled.
“He does, he does!” Aster got off the tree and held up his hands. He still didn’t get why he lost his fur. His fur! He’d dropped it!
“Shit!” he hissed under his breath and turned around and sprinted off faster than you could blink.
“Hey!” (Y/n) shouted as she watched him take off. She was about to go after him, when she noticed how empty her (n-m/h) hand was. She looked down and saw her bow on the ground.
How did I drop you? she thought with a roll of her eyes as she bent down to pick up her prized weapon.
She failed to notice one vital thing at that moment: the black sand had begun to move ever so slightly. And as she bent down and stretched out her hand the sand leapt up and latched onto her wrist.
“What the-?!” (Y/n) exclaimed surprised but didn’t get to finish when the sand let go of her wrist and jumped into her throat.
For a second nothing happened and (Y/n) was completely silent. In the next moment she was coughing violently, her throat completely dry and cold, like after running for a long time, and unable to utter a sound. She clenched her throat tightly as she tried to understand what had happened. An object, an inanimate object, SAND had just crawled down her throat and was now choking her. What in the world was going on?!
(Y/n) tried to scream – though she didn’t understand what good it would do her – but all that came out were small squeaks, all of them dry and barely audible. But apparently that was enough.
Even from where he was, Aster heard the woman’s little yelps and spun around, instantly worried. He ran back to the little clearing even faster than he had done when getting to retrieve his fur, which was astonishing. But somehow he managed that speed and managed to keep it. Somehow his instincts told him that something was very wrong with the archer-girl just from hearing those small sounds, they just didn’t sound right. And even if she wasn’t a child to look at, she was in her mind, if her being able to see him was any indicator.
Aster arrived shortly and saw (Y/n) clutching her throat; shock and desperation apparent in her previously determined (e/c) eyes. He dashed over to her and almost in a panic tried to figure out what was wrong. He heard the violent coughing shortly after and saw her eyes brimming over with tears.
Something must’ve gotten in her throat, Aster concluded and calmed down ever so slightly, until a shocking sight met him.
For a second, just a second, the young woman didn’t look like herself. Her hair flashed the darkest black color and her eyes shone yellow. But it was only for a single moment, and she returned to normal, still coughing, though worse than before.
Aster’s eyes widened at what he had seen and his jaw dropped.
No, he thought and continued to stare at the woman in shock. No.
(Y/n) continued coughing, her throat now burning. What was going on?! She tried to say something, anything, but it just ended up in more violent coughing. She didn’t understand. How could she? Sand didn’t attack people! Sand didn’t do anything at all! It just lay there, moving with the wind or with the water. It didn’t move of its own free will!
“Don’t worry, mate,” she barely heard Aster saying above her own coughing. “We’ll get this fixed.”
Aster knew he had to do something and he knew what. He just didn’t know how to do it. He didn’t know if he could still create his tunnels, maybe that power had gone with the fur, with his skin. But he would have to try. He stomped the ground twice with his right leg and to his great relief a tunnel entrance appeared. He sighed quickly, more like huffed, before he smoothly picked up (Y/n) that had been watching him the entire time, eyes growing wide when the hole appeared, despite her current situation.
“Hold on tight,” Aster said down to her and she looked straight at him, before she curled around herself when she coughed violently once more, “this may be a bumpy ride.”
And with that, Aster stepped into the hole unceremoniously. As the hole closed, a little purple flower sprouted.
-Skip of Time and Place-
After running through his tunnels at what felt like a slower pace than usual, Aster, or Bunny as he was most commonly known, emerged right by North’s workshop. Why he’d brought the woman he still held onto here he didn’t really get. Maybe he hoped North would have some sort of solution to the problem, a problem that had only gotten worse. Before, the coughs may have been dry, but they had been shallow, not a single of them sounded like they did her any good. Now the coughs were deep, rumbling though still as dry as before.
Aster’s brows furrowed in discomfort and worry. He was still shocked by what he had seen before and he felt he wasn’t about to calm down any time soon.
He took off again, this time running to the entrance of the huge building North called home. Aster never could understand how the big man could live in this freezing weather, though he supposed the indoor heating did help a lot.
“North!” Aster yelled loudly as soon as he burst through the doors. “NORTH!”
“Yes, yes, coming,” the as usual jolly voice of Santa Claus replied. “What is it Bun-”
North stopped dead in his tracks when he didn’t see the familiar shape of the grey Easter Bunny, but instead a man, perhaps somewhere in his twenties standing with a young woman in his arms. The thing that did strike North as familiar though were the green eyes the man possessed, that looked at him the exactly same way Bunny’s would.
North’s attention was at once drawn to the woman the man was holding once she coughed loudly, cramping together, to try and relieve some of the pain it caused.
“North, you gotta help me,” the man spoke, in the exact same voice and accent Bunny had, as he walked up to the old Russian. “Somethin’s wrong with her.”
“I can see that,” North said and examined the girl closely as she continued coughing. “But why bring her here?”
“B-L-A-C-K,” Aster spelled out through clenched teeth. North’s eyes widened and he beckoned Bunny to follow with the wave of his hand.
The two walked swiftly through the busy workshop, weaving through yetis and elves. All of them glanced nervously at the woman as they passed by and North’s eyebrows furrowed more and more every time she coughed.
Just as both of them turned to walk into North’s private study, the owner of said study turned the other way and walked over to the Summoning Handle, pulled it out, turned it around and pushed it back into place firmly. He looked up briefly and the blue-green aurora spread across the sky. It wouldn’t take long for the rest to arrive.
Bunny watched with a serious expression, knowing what North did was a necessity if they wanted this problem sorted out as quickly as possible. The woman coughed exceptionally loudly even in comparison to the other times and Bunny looked down at her with worry, seeing her (e/c) brimming over with pain-induced tears. To his big surprise and relief though she didn’t appear to be afraid, just confused and unfortunately in pain. He could feel she had trouble breathing as well, which didn’t better her situation.
North passed by Bunny into the office and Bunny followed momentarily, not intending to let go of the girl he held before the others arrived.
“Now,” North said and turned back to his old companion. “What is problem?”
“Sand,” came out as a dry sound and both men’s heads looked down at (Y/n) as she was finally able to speak.
“Sand?” North asked and quirked an eyebrow.
“Black sand,” Bunny replied and looked back at North with a determined expression. North’s eyebrows shot up again as he understood.
“She swallowed the sand,” he concluded and looked at the woman he knew was called (Y/n) with a sympathetic expression.
Bunny’s eyes widened as he looked down at (Y/n) as well only to see her nod her head weakly, confirming North’s claim.
“Shit,” Aster breathed out quietly as he just kept staring at her.